Columnist/economist Paul Krugman penned an excellent, even important article in the New York Times that was released today.
...racial hatred is still a potent force in our society, as we’ve just been reminded to our horror. And I’m sorry to say this, but the racial divide is still a defining feature of our political economy, the reason America is unique among advanced nations in its harsh treatment of the less fortunate and its willingness to tolerate unnecessary suffering among its citizens.
Of course, saying this brings angry denials from many conservatives, so let me try to be cool and careful here, and cite some of the overwhelming evidence for the continuing centrality of race in our national politics.
My own understanding of the role of race in U.S. exceptionalism was largely shaped by two academic papers.
The first, by the political scientist Larry Bartels, analyzed the move of the white working class away from Democrats, a move made famous in Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Mr. Frank argued that working-class whites were being induced to vote against their own interests by the right’s exploitation of cultural issues. But Mr. Bartels showed that the working-class turn against Democrats wasn’t a national phenomenon — it was entirely restricted to the South, where whites turned overwhelmingly Republican after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Richard Nixon’s adoption of the so-called Southern strategy
And this party-switching, in turn, was what drove the rightward swing of American politics after 1980. Race made Reaganism possible. And to this day Southern whites overwhelmingly vote Republican, to the tune of 85 or even 90 percent in the deep South.
The second paper, by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote, was titled “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-style Welfare State?” Its authors — who are not, by the way, especially liberal — explored a number of hypotheses, but eventually concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People: “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”
Just this, above, a portion of the article points out truths, sure, but also ends up being quite an indictment of Republicans in general, the Republican Party itself and much of the Right Wing in this country.
I believe there will be 3 reactions to the article.
First, there will be the Right Wingers and Republicans who deny it completely, out of hand, immediately.
The second group will never see or so, be able to consider these points.
Finally, there will be a small, tiny, even number of these people who read the article and accept its truths.
We have a long, long way to go in America, regarding race and wealth and poverty, that's certain.